After much extensive research on where Y, LY and myself could go nearby to Tokyo by car, Izu Peninsula looked extremely interesting enough and plus none of us “Japan addicts” have been there before. Located 120km southwest from Tokyo, it took us around 2 – 3 hours driving our wonderful rented car from Tokyo in the morning rush hour traffic to get here.
Having planned this trip since June, there was no way we were going to get lost. I was well-armed with my Google Maps which had all the important landmarks earmarked, and with my trusted local Japanese magazines that I had bought earlier from Kinokuniya and a wonderful GPRS system in our Nissan rented car. Just gotta key in the telephone number and off we go! There was much to explore in terms of Izu eats!
Our 2 days in Izu was jam packed with lots of wonderful food exploration of fish cakes, dried fish, cheap Japanese fruits, heavenly Japanese desserts and view of the beautiful Uchiura Bay, not forgetting a trip to the Izu Teddy Bear Museum which deserves a separate post on its own. Coming to this sleepy fishing town was a lovely place to slow things right down especially for Y and LY who was just rushing their work out to the last day in Singapore before this trip. On our first day in Izu, after we checked in our bags at the lovely Atami Sekitei, we didn’t waste time and quickly drove to the nearby Heiwadori Street, which was chock full of cafes, restaurants and specialty shops selling the local produce.
Izu is famous for its dried fish products and crackers, just walk pass any specialty stores and you would find lots of dried fish products for sale, and many of them were displayed for sample which was great. I hate it when I can’t sample mysteriously packaged goods in foreign languages, this made it really easy to decide which items to buy home. Just take your time to look around before buying as many shops sell similar products but the prices can differ.
This store below was one of the larger supermarkets and specialty stores that sold lots of fish related products and sauces etc. We bought quite a few types of dried products here, look out for this shop when you come here the next time.
Next on the list down the street, was Marutenn (まる天 熱海駅店), very famous for their Japanese crackers and best part there’s a whole selection we can choose from. Yeah!! Address: 〒413-0011 静岡県熱海市田原本町6−3, Tel: +81 557-85-3737
We bought at least 7 varieties to try. What’s really nice is once we pick what we like, the server will heat it up over the grill before serving it to us. This is such a nice treat compared to eating prepacked Japanese crackers from the supermarket. Further up the street, we found Aibana (藍花本店), rather well known for their cafe au lait and soft ice cream dessert at Aibana, otherwise known as “Blue Flower” if we do a Mandarin literal translation from the Japanese characters. Address:７−６ Taharahoncho, Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture 413-0011, Japan Tel: +81 557-83-5566
We ordered a green tea and soft ice cream set and additional coffee as Y and I was in need of a major caffeine fix. Really lovely as they serve different combo sets of soft ice cream with different types of topping. We ordered this one from just sheer guessing and pointing at the all Japanese menu.
I sipped some of the coffee and I think the coffee could have been better off without the milk, but I noticed in many of the coffee places in Japan, they love their cafe au lait, so it was either black coffee or this, so we opted for this. Think it’s hard to get a cappuccino around this town.
Another famous specialty of Izu is their steamed buns with different fillings. We tried the black sugar with red bean filling. It was quite nice, but I am personally not a huge fan of red beans so we only bought one to share. This store here is the most popular one from our observation of walking up and down the entire street. I was so amused with the little boy that was staring at the buns waiting for his mum to come buy one for him.
We were pretty famished by end of the day, having just been eating light bites and soft ice cream so we went to this tonkatsu shop – Tonkatsu Misono (とんかつみその) in the late afternoon. Not sure if it was a good idea as we were to eat dinner in less than 2 hours. Address: 1 Chome-１６−１６ Yukawa, Ito, Shizuoka Prefecture 414-0002, Japan Tel: +81 557-38-0797
We shared the rice with egg omelette and tonkatsu. As you can see, we ate it so fast, didn’t have a chance to snap a shot of the omelette before we attacked it. Surprisingly, the tonkatsu was quite nice, not oily, was pretty crispy and juicy. And their menu is so cute with piggy pictures! There was something very heart warming about the meal, I think it was the omelette rice, I have strangely been craving for this for a while.
And that marks the end of the first day’s post, read on the next post for what we did on our 2nd day in Izu!